Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 22nd May 2022

฿34 to one US Dollar
฿43 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.66 THB to one Philippine Peso

Davis

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 38,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

38,000 for a full-time job at a bilingual school teaching English 20 hours per week.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

20,000. Maybe a little more or less depending on the entertainment category.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I paid 24,000 for 6 months rent in a condo. It has a living room and a bedroom that are separate, a large wrap-around balcony, an outdoor-kitchen, and a great, unobstructed view of the mountains. I really had to haggle with the lady because she wanted 7,000 per month.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

500 for gas. I already purchased a motorbike for 20,000.

Utility bills

Roughly 1,800. 500 for water and electric, 850 for cell phone and internet, and 400 for laundry. No TV.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000. 6,000 for restaurants and 2,000 at the supermarket.

Nightlife and drinking

Roughly 6,000

Books, computers

Zero. I have enough books already and I also have a Kindle. I don’t pay for anything in the computer category either.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My standard of living is better than it was in the US.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Getting paid for a job that’s fun, cheap food, massage, muay Thai fights for free (sometimes) when I show a Thai license and school ID.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

15,000 to survive, 25,000 to spend, and 35,000+ to spend and save. I think it’s a good idea to take care of some start-up costs like paying for your rent upfront and buying a used motorbike from an auction.

Phil's analysis and comment

When someone says their standard of living is better in Thailand than it was in their homeland, you can't really argue with that. In fact there is very little I can pick apart in Davis' no-nonsene approach to living and teaching in Chiang Mai. His salary of 38K is a lot better than many teachers do in that part of the world so as long as Davis acts sensibly - which he clearly does - he's going to do well up there. Well done that man for negotiating his rent down from 7,000 to 4,000 and then paying six months upfront. There's a recession on! The bargains are there if you ask people to sharpen their pencils. 


Jacob

Working in Phuket (at a beach resort)

Monthly Earnings Almost 60,000 baht plus great benefits.

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

50,000 baht plus an 8,000 baht food allowance plus free accommodation near the beach and use of resort facilities.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

On average about 40,000 baht.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

The resort provides a studio apartment. It's small and pretty old and the walls are a bit thin - but it does the job. I'm only a hop and a step from probably the nicest beach in Phuket, where I can surf, boogie board and practice tai chi under the stars.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

About 550 baht a month but I never go very far from base.

Utility bills

All utility bills are covered by my employer.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Because the resort provides me with 'three hots and a cot', I spend very little on supermarket shopping - probably about 3,000 baht a month.

Nightlife and drinking

Being part of the hospitality industry is cool because many restaurants or clubs can give me a VIP card with discounts or free entry. I also know when the happy hours are and have a few friends running bars and clubs. Personally, I am more into meditation and Buddhism than I am into nightlife, however I end up going out approximately once every two weeks or so. In total I spend no more than 600 baht/month on nightlife so it’s a very small part of my budget.

Books, computers

Virtually nothing. I'm not into material possessions that much - although I do have a 10,000 baht smartphone.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Sometimes humble, sometimes extravagant. Salaries can be low in the hotel business but the benefits can be great. I think I'm very lucky to have such a nice job in such a nice location but I do work hard six days a week so I'd like to think I deserve it.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Even though Phuket can be expensive, I know where to go fot the best and cheapest food (if I don't eat at the hotel) Clothes are also a bargain.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

In Phuket, I would say 20-30,000 baht a month. But you certainly wouldn't save anything.

Phil's analysis and comment

A nice job at a five-star resort. Free accommodation a stone's throw from one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket. An 8,000 baht hotel restaurant allowance every month. VIP cards that allow him to get into the nightclubs for free. Plenty of friends running bars with happy hours. Oh and he manages to save 40,000 baht a month. Who's jealous? Can we have a show of hands?  


Stephen

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 73,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

73,000 baht a month teaching IGCSE maths and physics in an international school in the middle of Bangers.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

40,000 baht

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 3,400 baht a month for a Thai-style apartment near Praram 9 MRT where I am the only westerner.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

200 baht a month on fuel for my motorbike to ride the 3kms each way to school and about 500 baht a month on taxis and public transportation when I'm mincing around town.

Utility bills

Electric and water are 100 baht a month each and I use the free internet at school.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Roughly 5,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

20,000 baht

Books, computers

300 baht for a couple of paperbacks.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I want for nothing but I live a very simple, minimalist life. I aim to retire in 2013 shortly before my 40th birthday hence the huge savings. See www.earlyretirementextreme.com.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food. You can still get chicken on rice with soup for 30 baht - and no dishes to wash either. Bangkok taxis are cheap too!

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I have lived in Thailand for over three years. I've lived in rural areas and in cities and tourist traps. I would say out of all of them, Bangkok is the priciest.. In the sticks, 15K a month would be survival and you'd live like a king on 40k. In Bangkok you need 20K to just about survive and 100K to live like a king.

Phil's analysis and comment

When I read that Stephen earned 73,000 baht a month and spent less than 4,000 baht of it on rent and only a hundred baht on electricity (and let's not forget the use of free internet at school) I did wonder if we had finally found the man who switches his windscreen wipers off when he's driving under a bridge. Is this a man who only breathes in? Is this a man who would find a wooden crutch in the attic and go downstairs and break his son's leg? Then I read about his plans to retire at a ridiculously young age and the whole scenario fell into place. Well it kind of fell into place I suppose. It's certainly a very minimalistic lifestyle but who am I to knock it?

20,000 baht a month on nightlife though eh Steve? And he also offered this advice in his e-mail to me - "If you want to save cash here stay away from the local women. Thai women are the fastest money-reducing agents known to man!"

Steve, I'm putting two and two together and definitely coming up with four. 


Ben

Working in Rayong

Monthly Earnings 78,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

78,000 baht a month

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

10,000 baht

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 10,000 baht a month for a big 3-bedroom house. It's old but really spacious and comfortable to live in. My three cats love it as they can run everywhere!

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I have 12,000 baht car payments that finish in September. I also spend 4,000 a month on petrol. In addition to the car, I rent a motorcycle that costs about 2,500 baht a month with gas. So a total of about 18,500 baht.

Utility bills

About 3,600 baht in total. My electric bill is 2,000 baht, my internet 750, water is 200, and I pay 500 baht a month to the laundry lady.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

When you add up both supermatket shopping and restaurant bills, it must be at least 10,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

About 10,000 baht.

Books, computers

No more than a thousand a month.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I have everything I need except for savings. My problem is that I tend to impulse buy. I could save much more but I just need to be more disciplined. This will happen once my car loans have been paid off. I have already reduced my outgoings by getting rid of the maid (2500 baht a month) and cable TV (1800). I want for nothing and also enjoy regular scuba diving trips but money does seem to just slip through my fingers. In England I was a saver but here I'm a spender.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

KFC. I can get a bucket of chicken here for the price of a single meal in England. Cinema tickets and popcorn are also cheap. Everything else seems reasonably cheap but it still saps my money.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

To survive – 25,000 if you don’t mind living in a little place and only having a motorbike to pootle around on. Probably 40,000 to have a good lifestyle but not be able to make big rash purchases or be able to afford to go home. 60,000+ to be able to buy want you want when you want and not really worry too much.

Phil's analysis and comment

Ben believes in enjoying life - there's no doubt about that. When I first started to read his figures, my initial thought was 'how the hell is one guy and three cats getting through 68,000 baht a month In Rayong? But surround yourself with flat-screen TVs, the latest Apple technology, maids, cable TV, new cars, motorcycles and regular scuba-diving trips, and I guess it's easily done. 

One enormous saving grace though is that Ben knows exactly where he's going wrong and he knows exactly what he has to do to put it right - start saving a little more. I've worked with people who just like Ben, tended to surround themselves with endless material possessions - but never saw it as a problem - even when they would run out of money well before the month's end.


Brian

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 55,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

35,000 baht from my regular salary and about 20,000 from private teaching.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I try to save all the money I earn from private teaching and survive on my 35K monthly salary.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a small rented apartment in a quiet suburb of Bangkok. It costs me 6,500 baht a month.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I'm lucky inasmuch as I live about a 5-minute walk from my school so there's no need to deal with buses or taxis. I generally use taxis at the weekend though to go shopping or to go out and meet friends. But I'm guessing my monthly 'taxi bill' rarely tops 1,000 baht a month

Utility bills

Obviously I've noticed a big increase this month because the weather has got so hot and I'm blasting out the air-con all the time. In the cool season when I don't need the a/c on, my bills can be as low as 800 baht but last month was well over 2,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I like to have a mix of Thai food in local restaurants or maybe take-aways from the local street vendors and a splurge in a 'farang restaurant' once or twice a week. My weekly supermarket bill comes to about a thousand baht. I guess altogether food costs me about 10,000 a month. That might seem excessive for one person living alone but I've always thought that food is one thing you should never skimp on.

Nightlife and drinking

I'm not a big drinker at all. I go out a couple of nights a week and I'll enjoy three or four beers each time. I don't go to the kind of places where - cough! - there are too many temptations. Put me down for about 3,000 baht a month for this category.

Books, computers

I like reading so I'm often to be found in the second-hand bookshops around town. I'll probably spend 1,500 a month on books. And I pay just under a thousand baht a month for high-speed internet at my apartment.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I'm very happy with it but I make 55,000 baht a month only because I top up my regular salary with private students. I certainly couldn't and wouldn't survive on my base pay. I worked that out a very long time ago. If I look at my overall lifestyle, I probably don't enjoy enough weekends away or short holidays in Thailand - but that said, I'm not a beach or island person so trips don't appeal to me all that much.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Prices are definitely increasing here right across the board. I would say taxis are still an amazing bargain though. How those taxi drivers make money I'll never know!

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

In Bangkok? I wouldn't like to survive on less than 40K a month. In fact I'm beginning to think 50K is becoming closer to the mark. I don't know how much you could survive on in the rural areas. I've never had any desire to work there anyway. I'm a city boy!

Phil's analysis and comment

Sensible guy. Very sensible guy. Brian doesn't earn a great fortune but then again, he doesn't do anything to excess. It's a case of everything in moderation, leaving him 20,000 baht a month to stash away for a rainy day. I would like to have known a bit more about Brian's privates (ooh er missis) and how the numbers stack up. If he's earning 20,000 baht a month and I assume charging at least 500 baht an hour, then that's 40 hours of private teaching a month or 10 hours a week. That's quite a lot. I used to do about 6-8 hours a week with private students and found that more than enough. Sometimes you do your regular job from say 9am - 4pm and then a couple of hours in the evening, it can make a very long day indeed. Still, if you want to cream in the wonga, you've got to put in the effort!  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 384 total

Page 68 of 77


Featured Jobs

ICT & Science Teacher For Immediate Start

฿23,000+ / month

Bangkok


Filipino English Teachers

฿20,000+ / month

Chon Buri


Fun Native English Teachers for May 2022 Start

฿42,000+ / month

Thailand


Pre-School Teachers

฿80,000+ / month

Bangkok


Female NES Early Year 3 Teacher for August 2022 Start

฿40,000+ / month

Chon Buri


NES Year 3 Teacher for August 2022 Start

฿50,000+ / month

Chon Buri


Featured Teachers

  • Dixie


    Filipino, 53 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Irish


    Filipino, 33 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Ronald


    Filipino, 33 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Mehmet


    Turkish, 28 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • David


    Irish, 46 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Reza


    Iranian, 31 years old. Currently living in Iran

The Hot Spot


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.